Press

Ballot Debacle Again in Florida Election: NGLTF Demands Investigation into Apparent Voter Fraud

Date: 
September 10, 2002

MIAMI, FLORIDA - In today's Miami-Dade election that featured a historic gay rights ballot measure, registered voters have once again been denied the right to cast votes. Rampant breakdowns in new touch screen voting machines, failure to open polling places in a timely manner, untrained personnel, and refusal by election officials to provide paper "provisional" ballots when voting machines have malfunctioned have left voters and observers alike stunned and angered.

Worst of all, numerous complaints have been registered by voters who went to the polls to vote NO on the anti-gay ballot measure, but were prevented from doing so. In some precincts, there was no ability to vote on any initiatives. In others, voters have complained that when they voted NO on the anti-gay ballot measure, YES votes appear to have registered instead. Many polling places were not operative until after 1:00 pm, more than 5 hours later than the scheduled 7:00 am.

"In 2000, African Americans in southern Florida were denied the right to vote and to have their votes counted. In 2002, the gay and Jewish communities are facing the same inexcusable fate," said Lorri L. Jean, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

While irregularities have been reported in precincts countywide, Miami's Jewish and gay communities have been disproportionately hit by voter machine malfunction and other irregularities. These communities represent some of the strongest opposition to a measure on the ballot that, if passed, would remove discrimination protections based on sexual orientation from the County's human rights ordinance.

"How many times must historically oppressed communities be denied the right to participate in elections under the watch of Jeb and George W. Bush?" demanded Jean. "Hundreds and potentially thousands of people in Miami-Dade have been unable to vote today because of malfunctioning machines and then have been provided no alternative means of voting. This is not a partisan failure, this is a leadership failure."

"After the last Florida voting fiasco, Jeb and George Bush promised the American public that they would make every vote count," Jean continued. "They have had two years to create a system that guaranteed full participation in the democratic process to all people and, as we now know, they have failed to deliver on their promise."

Therefore, NGLTF is demanding that the Governor employ all available communication devices and personnel at the state's disposal to let voters know that voting hours have now been extended until 9:00 pm and to encourage them to return to the polls.

"Further, we are demanding full and immediate investigations by the Governor's office and the U.S. Department of Justice into the failures of the Florida election system so that the gay community and indeed all Floridians will never again be denied that opportunity to vote and have those votes counted," Jean concluded.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.